IOWA CITY — High-percentage shots are high-percentage shots only if you make them.
And through the first one-third of the women’s basketball season, nobody has made them more regularly than Monika Czinano.
“She is doing a really good job of sealing,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. “She is taking smart shots, she’s not forcing anything. The shots she is taking are really good shots.”
A 6-foot-3 sophomore, Czinano leads the nation in field-goal percentage, converting on 65 of 91 attempts (71.4 percent) through 10 games.
“I don’t focus on stats much,” she said. “It’s more fun that we’re winning.”
Iowa (8-2) concludes its non-conference slate Saturday against Drake (7-3). Tipoff is 6 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Megan Gustafson was the consensus national player of the year last season, and was among the national leaders in scoring, rebounding and field-goal accuracy. She’s gone now, but Czinano has eased the pain of her absence.
After averaging 1.9 points and 5.3 minutes per game — mostly in give-Gustafson-a-breather stints — Czinano’s productivity has soared: 14.9 points and 27.6 minutes per contest.
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“(Assistant coach) Jan (Jensen) does such a good job working with our post players,” Bluder said. “She motivates them and teaches them about sealing and body position. And she’s working with an athlete that’s a sponge and so willing to listen and learn.”
A year with Gustafson was valuable, too.
“She taught me a lot about work ethic,” Czinano said. “I would always get texts from her, ‘Do you want to come in and shoot?’”
Now playing professionally overseas, Gustafson reached out to Czinano again recently.
“It was really supportive,” Czinano said. “She just told me, ‘You got this.’”
In the Hawkeyes’ exhibition game against Winona State, Czinano made all 13 of her shots from the floor. Those stats didn’t count, but these do: 9-of-9 against North Alabama, 7-of-8 against Cincinnati, 7-of-8 against North Carolina Central.
Senior guard Kathleen Doyle said that Czinano “does her work early, without the ball. She moves her feet well and holds her seal.
“When she’s shooting 70 percent, it’s something you want to keep going to.”
Czinano will be challenged Saturday by the speed of Drake senior post Sara Rhine, who averaged 19.1 points per game and shoots 66.4 percent from the floor.
“(Rhine) is so good in transition,” Bluder said. “She is as good as any post in the Big Ten.”
The Bulldogs are coming off a 93-84 loss Tuesday at Oklahoma.
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